If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from panic attacks, you will know that there are a wide variety of symptoms. All of them are distressing and can have a negative impact on how you live your life, maybe even causing you to be constantly worried about when your next panic attack will arrive.
By learning to control how you breathe, you can make a vast difference to your panic attacks and, given time and practice, you may even be able to stop them dead in their tracks.
Initially, it may not be easy to breathe into your panic attack. It is worth practicing these breathing exercises so that they will become a natural reaction for you.
Breathing exercises are a simple yet effective way to deal with your panic attacks.
Learning to breathe from the diaphragm
You need to learn how to breathe from your diaphragm. Once you’ve learned this method, you’ll find that it becomes second nature. Initially it may seem a slightly odd way to breathe. Stick with it and you’ll see some positive results quite fast.
Breathing from the diaphragm is actually the most natural method of breathing. You used it as a baby but, over time, you have learned other, less natural breathing methods. Now is the time to re-learn!
Place one hand on your abdomen (the part of your body that lies between your chest and your thigh) and the other hand on your chest. As you start to breathe, your chest should remain still and barely moving as you breathe in. Instead, your stomach should expand with the air you are breathing in.
Once you’ve taken a deep breath in, slowly start to exhale. Imagine that all the air leaves your body as you breathe out.
The aim of this technique is to slow down your breathing. After a few deep breaths, you should be taking around six breaths a minute. Probably quite a few less than the shallow breaths you are taking at the moment.
Your breathing rhythm should be slow and natural. There’s no need to rush. Your stomach should rise and fall smoothly. Although I suggested imagining that you are breathing all the air out of your body, keep that thought in your imagination. Don’t strain breathing in or out.
If you feel dizzy or light headed when practicing this new breathing method, just stop and relax. Once you are back to normal, start to practice again. Keep up the practice for a few minutes.
Congratulations! Now that you’ve learned this breathing technique, you can simply apply it whenever you feel the symptoms of a panic attack coming along. At the slightest hint of any of the symptoms, start to breathe from your diaphragm. This alone should reduce the risk of hyperventilating when you next suffer from a panic attack.